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Fidel Castro on `Team Obama'

By Fidel Castro Ruz 

December 4, 2008 -- Following Barack Obama’s speech, on May 23, 2008, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled ``The empire’s hypocritical policy''.

In that reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists: “[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment […] It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. […] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behaviour of the presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position in the November 4 elections. I wrote:

I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1. Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2. Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

3. Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

4. Is an Adjustment Act, applied as punishment on only one country, Cuba, in order to destabilise it, good and honourable, even when it costs innocent children and mothers their lives? If it is good, why is this right not automatically granted to Haitians, Dominicans,and other peoples of the Caribbean, and why isn’t the same Act applied to Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who die like flies against the Mexican border wall or in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific?

5. Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for Americans? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

6. Are crackdowns on illegal residents fair, even as they affect children born in the United States?

7. Is the brain-drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

8. You state, as I pointed out at the beginning of this reflection, that your country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, aerial and special forces distributed across the planet. I ask: is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

9. Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on 60 or more dark corners of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

10. Is it honourable and sound to invest millions upon millions of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on Earth several times over?

I could have included several other issues.

Despite the caustic questions, I was not unkind to the African American candidate. I perceived he had greater capacity and command of the art of politics than his adversaries, not only in the opposing party but in his own, too.

Last week, the US president-elect Barack Obama announced his Economic Recovery Program.

On Monday, December 1, he introduced his national security and foreign policy teams:

“Vice-president-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce our national security team […] old conflicts remain unresolved, and newly assertive powers have put strains on the international system. The spread of nuclear weapons raises the peril that the world's deadliest technology could fall into dangerous hands. Our dependence on foreign oil empowers authoritarian governments and endangers our planet.”

“…our economic power must sustain our military strength, our diplomatic leverage, and our global leadership.”

“We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships […] American values are America's greatest export to the world.”

“…the team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.”

“…these men and women represent all of those elements of American power […] they have served in uniform and as diplomats […] they share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America's role as a leader in the world.”

“I have known Hillary Clinton…”, he says.

I am mindful of the fact that she was president-elect Barack Obama’s rival and the wife of US President Bill Clinton, who signed the extraterritorial Torricelli and Helms Burton Acts against Cuba. During the presidential race she committed herself with these laws and with the economic blockade. I am not complaining, I am simply stating it for the record.

“I am proud that she will be our next Secretary of State”, said Obama. “[She] will command respect in every capital; and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world. Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment …”

“At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense…”

“[…] I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office: responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control.”

It strikes me that Gates is a Republican, not a Democrat. He is the only one who has been defence secretary and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, that is, he has occupied these positions under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Gates, who is aware of his popularity, has said that first made sure that the president-elect was choosing him for as long as necessary.

On the other hand, while Condoleezza Rice was travelling to India and Pakistan under Bush’s instructions to mediate in the tense relations between these two countries, two days ago, the minister of defence from Brazil gave the green light to a Brazilian company to manufacture MAR-1 missiles, but instead of one a month, as had been the case until now, it will produce five every month. One hundred of these missiles will be sold to Pakistan at an estimated cost of 85 million euros.

In a public statement, the minister said that “these missiles that can be attached to planes have been designed to locate ground radars. They allow the effective monitoring of both the ground and air space.”

As for Obama, he continued unflappable his Monday statement: “And going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.”

On Janet Napolitano, he indicated: “[She] offers the experience and executive skill that we need in the next Secretary of Homeland Security…”

“Janet assumes this critical role having learned the lessons – some of them painful – of the last several years, from 9/11 to Katrina[…] She understands as well as anyone the danger of an insecure border. And she will be a leader who can reform a sprawling Department while safeguarding our homeland.”

This familiar figure had been appointed a district attorney in Arizona by Clinton in 1993, and then promoted to state attorney general in 1998. Later on, in 2002, she became a Democratic Party candidate and then governor of that bordering state, which is the most common incoming route used by illegal immigrants. She was elected governor in 2006.

About Susan Elizabeth Rice, he said: “Susan knows that the global challenges we face demand global institutions that work… We need the UN to be more effective as a venue for collective action – against terror and proliferation; climate change and genocide; poverty and disease.”

On National Security Advisor James Jones he said: “[…] I am convinced that General James Jones is uniquely suited to be a strong and skilled National Security Advisor. Generations of Joneses have served heroically on the battlefield – from the beaches of Tarawa in World War II, to Foxtrot Ridge in Vietnam. Jim's Silver Star is a proud part of that legacy[…] He has commanded a platoon in battle, served as Supreme Allied Commander in a time of war [he means NATO and the Gulf War), and worked on behalf of peace in the Middle East.”

“Jim is focused on the threats of today and the future. He understands the connection between energy and national security, and has worked on the frontlines of global instability – from Kosovo to northern Iraq to Afghanistan.”

“He will advise me and work effectively to integrate our efforts across the government, so that we are effectively using all elements of American power to defeat unconventional threats and promote our values.”

“I am confident that this is the team that we need to make a new beginning for American national security.”

Obama is somebody we can talk to anywhere he wishes since we do not preach violence or war. He should me reminded, though, that the stick and carrot doctrine will have no place in our country.

None of the phrases in his latest speech shows any element of response to the questions I raised last May 25, just six months ago.

I will not say now that Obama is any less smart. On the contrary, he is showing the mental faculties that enabled me to see and compare his capacity with that of his mediocre adversary, John McCain, who was almost rewarded for his “exploits” merely due to the traditions of US society. If it had not been for the economic crisis, television and the internet, Obama would not have won the elections against the omnipotent racism. It also helped that he studied first in the University of Columbia, where he graduated in political sciences, and then in Harvard where he graduated as a lawyer. This enabled him to become a member of the modestly rich class with only several million dollars. He is certainly not Abraham Lincoln, nor are these times similar to those. That society is today a consumer society where the saving habits have been lost while the spending habit has multiplied.

Somebody had to offer a calm and serene response even though this will have to swim up the powerful stream of hopes raised by Obama in the international public opinion.

I only have two more press dispatches left to analyse. They all carry news from everywhere. I have estimated that only the United States will be spending in this economic crisis over US$6 trillion in paper money, an amount that can only be assessed by the rest of the peoples of the world with their sweat and hunger, their suffering and blood.

Our principles are the same as those of Baraguá. The empire should know that our homeland can be turned to dust but the sovereign rights of the Cuban people are not negotiable.

[This article first appeared at http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/reflexiones/2008/ing/f041208i.html.]

Comments

Chevron in the White House

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081202_chevron_in_the_white_house/

Posted on Dec 2, 2008

By Amy Goodman

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his principal national-security Cabinet selections to the world Monday and left no doubt that he intends to start his administration on a war footing. Perhaps the least well known among them is retired Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama’s pick for national security adviser. The position is crucial—think of the power that Henry Kissinger wielded in Richard Nixon’s White House. A look into who James Jones is sheds a little light on the Obama campaign’s promise of “Change We Can Believe In.”

Jones is the former supreme allied commander of NATO. He is president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. The institute has been criticized by environmental groups for, among other things, calling for the immediate expansion of domestic oil and gas production and issuing reports that challenged the use of the Clean Air Act to combat global warming.

Recently retired from the military, Jones has parlayed his 40-year military career into several corporate directorships. Among them is Cross Match Technologies, which makes biometric identification equipment. More germane to Jones’ forthcoming role in Obama’s inner circle, though, might be Jones’ seat as a director of Boeing, a weapons manufacturer, and as a director of Chevron, an oil giant.

Chevron has already sent one of its directors to the White House: Condoleezza Rice. As a member of that California-based oil giant’s board, she actually had a Chevron oil tanker named after her, the Condoleezza Rice. The tanker’s name was changed, after some embarrassment, when Rice joined the Bush administration as national security adviser. So now Chevron has a new person at the highest level of the executive branch. With Robert Gates also keeping his job as secretary of defense, maybe Obama should change his slogan to “Continuity We Can Believe In.”

But what of a Chevron director high up in the West Wing? Obama’s attacks on John McCain during the campaign included a daily refrain about the massive profits of ExxonMobil, as if that was the only oil company out there. Chevron, too, has posted mammoth profits. Chevron was also a defendant in a federal court case in San Francisco related to the murder, 10 years ago, of two unarmed, peaceful activists in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. On May 28, 1998, three Chevron helicopters ferried Nigerian military and police to the remote section of the Delta known as Ilajeland, where protesters had occupied a Chevron offshore drilling platform to protest Chevron’s role in the destruction of the local environment. The troops opened fired on the protesters. Two were killed, others were injured. (Rice was in charge of the Chevron board’s public policy committee when it fought off shareholder resolutions demanding that Chevron improve its human rights and environmental record in Nigeria.)

One of those shot was Larry Bowoto, who, along with the family members of those killed, filed suit in California against Chevron for its role in the attack. Just after Jones was named Obama’s national security adviser Monday, a jury acquitted Chevron. Bowoto told me: “I was disappointed in the judgment by the jury. I believe personally the struggle continues. I believe the attorney representing us will not stay put. He will take the initiative in going to the court of appeals.” I met Bowoto in 1998, just months after he was shot. He showed me his bullet wounds when I interviewed him in the Niger Delta. I also met Omoyele Sowore, who has since come to the U.S. and started the news Web site SaharaReporters.com.

Sowore has followed the case closely. Though disappointed, he said: “We have achieved one major victory: Chevron’s underbelly was exposed in this town. ... Also there is Nigeria: Protesters won’t give up. ... This will not discourage anybody who wants to make sure Chevron gives up violence as a way of doing business. American citizens are increasingly protective of their economy. ... Chevron played into fears of ... the jurors, saying these are people [the Nigerian protesters] who made oil prices go through the roof. This was a pyrrhic victory for Chevron. If I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t be popping champagne.”

Nigerians know well the power of the military-industrial complex in their own country. While Obama was swept into office promising change, his choice of Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser probably has U.S. corporate titans breathing easy, leaving the poor of the Niger Delta with the acrid air and oil-slicked water that lie behind Chevron’s profits.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

© 2008 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Obama won't solve the problems of American workers

Dear  comrades

There are many around the world who believe that the new U.S. President will solve the problems of American workers and will change the U.S. foreign policy.

The CNN, the BBC and all other media controlled by big monopolies promote these hopes. We understand the U.S. efforts to show a new face. A democratic and peaceful face. To make us forget about the imperialist policy, the capitalist exploitation, the state violence and the state terrorism.

Unfortunately we can not believe in such dreams. The multinationals which financed with 2 billion US dollars the election campaign of Barak Obama are certainly not idiots to waste their money. The black color of skin of Barak Obama should not hide the truth. Condoleezza Rice is black, Colin Powell is also black. We can not blame people for their skin color. We blame the policies, we blame the imperialism, we blame the exploitation of man by man.

For us the hope and the true perspective is the struggle of peoples, the class oriented struggles and this is how we will go on.

George Pontikos,

Greece.

 

John Pilger: Beware Of Obama's Groundhog Day

Dec 12, 2008 By John Pilger

John Pilger's ZSpace Page / ZSpace

One of the cleverest films I have seen is Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman who finds himself stuck in time. At first he deludes himself that the same day and the same people and the same circumstances offer new opportunities. Finally, his naivety and false hope desert him and he realises the truth of his predicament and escapes. Is this a parable for the age of Obama?

Having campaigned with "Change you can believe in", President-elect Barack Obama has named his A-team. They include Hillary Clinton, who voted to attack Iraq without reading the intelligence assessment and has since threatened to "totally obliterate" Iran on behalf of a foreign power, Israel. During his primary campaign, Obama referred repeatedly to Clinton's lies about her political record. When he appointed her secretary of state, he called her "my dear friend".

Obama's slogan is now "continuity". His secretary of defence will be Robert Gates, who serves the lawless, blood-soaked Bush regime as secretary of defence, which means secretary of war (America last had to defend itself when the British invaded in 1812). Gates wants no date set for an Iraq withdrawal and "well north of 20,000" troops to be sent to Afghanistan. He also wants America to build a completely new nuclear arsenal, including "tactical" nuclear weapons that blur the distinction with conventional weapons.

Another product of "continuity" is Obama's first choice for CIA chief, John Brennan, who shares responsibility for the systematic kidnapping and torturing of people, known as "extraordinary rendition". Obama has assigned Madeleine Albright to report on how to "strengthen US leadership in responding to genocide". Albright, as secretary of state, was largely responsible for the siege of Iraq in the 1990s, described by the UN's Denis Halliday as genocide.

There is more continuity in Obama's appointment of officials who will deal with the economic piracy that brought down Wall Street and impoverished millions. As in Bill Murray's nightmare, they are the same officials who caused it. For example, Lawrence Summers will run the National Economic Council. As treasury secretary, according to the New York Times, he "championed the law that deregulated derivatives, the... instruments - aka toxic assets - that have spread financial losses [and] refused to heed critics who warned of dangers to come".

There is logic here. Contrary to myth, Obama's campaign was funded largely by rapacious capital, such as Citigroup and others responsible for the sub-prime mortgage scandal, whose victims were mostly African Americans and other poor people.

Is this a grand betrayal? Obama has never hidden his record as a man of a system described by Martin Luther King as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today". Obama's dalliance as a soft critic of the disaster in Iraq was in line with most Establishment opinion that it was "dumb". His fans include the war criminals Tony Blair, who has "hailed" his appointments, and Henry Kissinger, who describes the appointment of Hillary Clinton as "outstanding". One of John McCain's principal advisers, Max Boot, who is on the Republican Party's far right, said: "I am "gobsmacked by these appointments. [They] could just as easily have come from a President McCain."

Obama's victory is historic, not only because he will be the first black president, but because he tapped in to a great popular movement among America's minorities and the young outside the Democratic Party. In 2006 Latinos, the country's largest minority, took America by surprise when they poured into the cities to protest against George W Bush's draconian immigration laws. They chanted: "Si, se puede!" ("Yes we can!"), a slogan Obama later claimed as his own. His secretary for homeland security is Janet Napolitano who, as governor of Arizona, made her name by stoking hostility against Latino immigrants. She has militarised her state's border with Mexico and supported the building of a hideous wall, similar to the one dividing occupied Palestine.

On election eve, reported Gallup, most Obama supporters were "engaged" but "deeply pessimistic about the country's future direction". My guess is that many people knew what was coming, but hoped for the best. In exploiting this hope, Obama has all but neutered the anti-war movement that is historically allied to the Democrats. After all, who can argue with the symbol of the first black president in this country of slavery, regardless of whether he is a warmonger? As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, Obama is a "brand" like none other, having won the highest advertising campaign accolade and attracted unprecedented sums of money. The brand will sell for a while. He will close Guantanamo Bay, whose inmates represent less than one per cent of America's 27,000 "ghost prisoners". He will continue to make stirring, platitudinous speeches, but the tears will dry as people understand that President Obama is the latest manager of an ideological machine that transcends electoral power. Asked what his supporters would do when reality intruded, Stephen Walt, an Obama adviser, said: "They have nowhere else to go."

Not yet. If there is a happy ending to the Groundhog Day of repeated wars and plunder, it may well be found in the very mass movement whose enthusiasts registered voters and knocked on doors and brought Obama to power. Will they now be satisfied as spectators to the cynicism of "continuity"? In less than three months, millions of angry Americans have been politicised by the spectacle of billions of dollars of handouts to Wall Street as they struggle to save their jobs and homes. It as if seeds have begun to sprout beneath the political snow. And history, like Groundhog Day, can repeat itself. Few predicted the epoch-making events of the 1960s and the speed with which they happened. As a beneficiary of that time, Obama should know that when the blinkers are removed, anything is possible.

Obama's top donors

from the CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS [http://www.opensecrets.org]:
Barack Obama (D)

Top Contributors

This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2008 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate , rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

Because of contribution limits, organizations that bundle together many individual contributions are often among the top donors to presidential candidates. These contributions can come from the organization's members or employees (and their families). The organization may support one candidate, or hedge its bets by supporting multiple candidates. Groups with national networks of donors - like EMILY's List and Club for Growth - make for particularly big bundlers.

University of California $1,069,898
Goldman Sachs $884,907
Harvard University $732,150
Microsoft Corp $714,358
Google Inc $704,649
JPMorgan Chase & Co $600,210
Citigroup Inc $586,866
National Amusements Inc $566,409
Time Warner $517,748
Sidley Austin LLP $496,445
UBS AG $484,369
Stanford University $482,199
Skadden, Arps et al $473,424
Wilmerhale Llp $471,729
Columbia University $427,766
Morgan Stanley $425,502
Latham & Watkins $425,324
IBM Corp $416,946
University of Chicago $416,055
Lehman Brothers $410,974

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